There are several options for conservative (meaning non-invasive) treatments for lumbar stenosis, which are examined in more detail below.
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Non-Surgical Treatments for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
Typical lumbar stenosis treatments include one or a combination of the following:
- Activity modification. Patients are usually more comfortable when flexed forward. For example, many patients can ease leg pain and discomfort when walking by leaning forward on a cane, walker or shopping cart.
- Exercise. This treatment will be recommended as part of treatment for most people with lumbar spinal stenosis. A targeted program of spinal stenosis exercises with guidance from a physical therapist or doctor can prevent further debilitation arising from inactivity. Modifications to exercises can be made to ensure patient comfort. For example, stationary biking can be a beneficial treatment option because patients are sitting and positioned in a flexed-forward position while exercising.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Since inflammation is a common component of spinal stenosis, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil), naproxen (e.g. Aleve) or Cox-2 Inhbitors (e.g. Celebrex), may be an effective lumbar stenosis treatment.
- Epidural injections. These injections are given on an out-patient basis and usually take 15 to 30 minutes to complete. The physician guides a needle into the epidural space (located within the spinal canal between the lamina and the sac around the nerve root called the dura mater or dura). Once the needle is in the correct position, the epidural steroid solution is slowly injected. Epidural injections use steroids as an anti-inflammatory agent and often include a fast-acting local anesthetic for temporary pain relief.